Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

Abu Dhabi engineer overcomes serious car crash to take part in ‘toughest foot race on Earth’

Khawar Siddique is currently taking part in the Marathon Des Sables, or Marathon of the Sands, a six-day, 250km race across the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco.
Khawar Siddique, an engineer in Abu Dhabi, is taking part in the Marathon Des Sables, a six-day, 250-kilometre race across the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco. Courtesy Khawar Siddique
Khawar Siddique, an engineer in Abu Dhabi, is taking part in the Marathon Des Sables, a six-day, 250-kilometre race across the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco. Courtesy Khawar Siddique

ABU DHABI // An expatriate left bedridden for months after a car crash is now competing in the ultramarathon known as the toughest foot race on Earth.

Pakistani Khawar Siddique, an engineer in Abu Dhabi, is currently taking part in the Marathon des Sables, or Marathon of the Sands, a six-day, 250-kilometre race across the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco.

Runners are required to cross terrain ranging from rocky ground to soft sand dunes, reaching heights of more than 300 metres as they carry up to 7 kilograms of food and belongings on their backs.

More than 1,100 people from 51 countries are taking part this year and 16 of them live in the UAE, but Mr Siddique is the first Pakistani to attempt it, race officials said.

The 35-year-old was born and brought up in Islamabad and he is attempting the ultramarathon to inspire those struggling with their fitness to live a healthier life.

“In the summer of 2013 I had a terrible car accident that left me bedridden for two months,” he said.

“While lying in bed day in and day out, I kept thinking about how we take many things in our life for granted, especially our health. Many of us don’t put in an effort to maintain the best tools that we have been blessed with – our mind and body.

“I made it a mission to take control of my life and started focusing on my health. This is when I discovered my passion for running.”

In the years since, Mr Siddique has completed more than 75 long-distance races including full marathons and trail runs in the UAE and Oman.

His parents, Muhammad Siddique and Taslim Akhtar, are proud of their son but worried about his well-being.

“When we heard about Khawar’s plan to take part, we were initially hesitant as we were concerned about the high temperatures there but he is going to be the first and only MDS runner from Pakistan, which is a big honour for all expatriate Pakistanis living in UAE,” said his father.

“We are anxiously tracking his status online daily and wish him success there, and a safe return back home.”

Once he completes the challenge, Mr Siddique plans to visit schools in Pakistan and the UAE to motivate children to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

“Our school is very proud of our old-boy alumni Khawar Siddique,” said Abdul Qudus Saggu, principal of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Arab Pakistani school in Abu Dhabi.

“He is a role model for the current students of the school. I wish him all the best and look forward to inviting him to meet schoolchildren and inspire them.”

Marathon des Sables started in 1986 and more than 13,000 people have participated in it.

For more information on the event, visit www.marathondessables.com.

akhaishgi@thenational.ae

Updated: July 21, 2017 06:50 PM

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